My favorite holiday of the year is around the corner. What could be better than the opportunity to spend time with family and friends, celebrating the things and people for which we are grateful? This year, I feel particularly grateful. While the last few years have been a tumultuous ride of high emotions, I find myself on the eve of my thirtieth birthday with a world of possibility opening before me, and steadiness in my heart to approach it with a sure foot. I have the most magnificently dynamic and beautiful child; I am in the valley of my birth with my family close, and my friends in the same hemisphere; I am, once again, engaged in the academic world and pursuing something that is both practical and inspiring.
I have probably said this before, but one of the most valuable things about the Master in Management program is the way it combines both close personal introspection with practical business strategy. I believe that if I put my full energy into both of these elements of the program, I will continue to balance my life and grow myself in a way that I can be proud of. (I promise I will write soon about the practical side of things!) Recently, in Organizational Leadership, we were asked to write a personal leadership development plan. What a daunting and exciting task! How often do you think about what you want in your life, but then let it slip away? Have you ever seriously considered what your goals are, and then set yourself a plan for achieving them? Do your dreams lie in darkness or do you strive to draw them into the light? I took this assignment seriously, and thoroughly enjoyed the process of writing it. Part of my commitment to myself is to write more, and to share that writing. You, as readers of this blog may help me in that goal. Simply be reading and letting me know what you think, you support me in that goal. Below you will find the introduction to my plan.
It is fitting that I should begin the endeavor of writing my personal leadership development plan in the home of a dear friend. Through the tall windows before me, I see layers of beauty laid piece by piece into a panorama that is magnificent and humbling, divine and deeply human. Under sweeping wisteria, a birdfeeder collects myriad visitors: brief, light and colorful; strong stalks of rosemary shudder in the wind, shaking tiny drops of water like jewels in the late afternoon sun; the brilliant crimson boughs of a plum tree stretch into the heavens, the leaves perfectly contrasting with the crisp blue sky. This is the home of a woman in her 70s’. She has spent her life cultivating beauty as a teacher, as a gardener, as a lover of language, literature, art, and music, as a friend, as a cook. She has seen in me things I had not seen in myself, had hope in my life when I felt hopeless, given me numerous occasions to shudder in pure delight of the endless tiny gifts this world has to offer. I feel blessed honored to call her a friend.
In this space that is endlessly inspiring, I am often torn between the task of attending to each petite detail and that of looking at my life with greater perspective, asking myself, why does this place speak to me so deeply? How does this experience inform my life and my future? How might I grow into a being as warm, delightful, and inspiring as this space and the person who created it? In the next few pages, I invite you to join me as I venture into the greater questions. Today I will deconstruct, examine, and rebuild my vision, my values, and my goals with a realistic though hopeful energy. I will unpeel my aspirations, lay them bare in the light of this clear afternoon, and identify some clear paths I might take to achieve these aspirations.
I will be clear from the beginning. This is called a leadership development plan; however, I write with the intention of developing my whole self. Being a good leader is important to me. I believe I have the capacity to help others find purpose and direction in their lives, and more fully achieve their own potential. But in order to be the leader I aspire to be, I need to be a good human, a person who lives life with grace and humor, with poise and honesty, with compassion and empathy; a person who works hard for what she believes in and constantly challenges herself to find the best in herself and in her surroundings. How can I ask the most of others if I am not prepared to seek it for myself? In order to be someone others feel good about following, I have a lot to work on in myself. This plan addresses the various elements of life that I find important, and often conflict with each other. My goal is to identify ways to balance these elements and further develop them so that I may more fully achieve my potential and continue to grow throughout my life. I will begin by examining where I want to go, and why I think it’s important, then I will take a look at where I am right now, and finally, I will begin to set out some clear steps that will guide, inform, and keep me honest in my movement towards these goals.
More than anything, right now, I am grateful to be in an environment that pushes me to open up these questions and address them with as much honesty as possible. Please let me know if you are interested in reading more about where I see myself going.